An ankle injury to Devin Booker resulted in the Toronto Raptors snapping the Phoenix Suns’ seven-game winning streak in their last game out. Can the Suns get back on track at home against the defending champs, despite being without Booker and Bradley Beal? Take a look at our Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns predictions, starting lineups, and betting odds below!
Denver Nuggets Vs. Phoenix Suns Prediction
Even though the Suns boast an 11-7 record thus far in the 2023-24 campaign, they are merely 3-5 without Devin Booker, their All-Star guard who has undoubtedly had the best start to a season in his career. Last season was a similar story; the Suns went 11-18 without “Book.” However, when Booker is on the floor, the Suns are 8-2 this season; that is a sizable difference and quantitatively shows just how important he is to this Phoenix team. Further, the Suns have a net rating of just +0.5 without Booker, which would place them firmly at 17th in the NBA when he is unavailable.
Jamal Murray struggled in his first game back from injury, but he got that game out of the way; he has had great success recently in Phoenix, averaging 29 points, five rebounds, and five assists in three road games during the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Additionally, we love this matchup for Nikola Jokic versus Jusuf Nurkic, who is susceptible to getting in foul trouble (5.3 personal fouls per game in his past three games against Jokic) versus the “Joker.” Additionally, Jokic has averaged roughly 33 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists on 65% shooting from the field and 40% shooting from behind the arc in his past three games against Nurkic. And the Suns are severely lacking in frontcourt depth.
If Bradley Beal wasn’t still nursing a back injury, then this might be a different story, but I will take a full-loaded Nuggets team that is fresh off a championship and is 7-1 this season with Jamal Murray playing over an injury-riddled Suns team, even with Denver being on the road. Obviously, this is all contingent on Gordon and Murray being able to play (they are questionable), so we will be keeping our eyes glued to the injury report to ensure they are taking the court.
Denver Nuggets Vs. Phoenix Suns Prediction: Nuggets -2.5
Best NBA Betting Promo Codes
Denver Nuggets Vs. Phoenix Suns Best Odds
The Denver Nuggets are 2.5-point road favorites against the shorthanded Phoenix Suns. Phoenix has Moneyline odds of +124, while Denver’s are at -148. The Over/Under stands at 223.5 points, indicating a lower-scoring game in this matchup.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
Phoenix Suns Starting Lineup
Denver Nuggets Vs. Phoenix Suns Injuries
After Jamal Murray missed 11 consecutive games, he was finally able to return to Denver’s lineup on November 29th in a matchup against the Houston Rockets. However, Murray (ankle) remains questionable for this bout and will likely be a game-time decision. Aaron Gordon (heel) is also questionable, while Vlatko Cancar (knee) remains out indefinitely.
Meanwhile, Phoenix will miss Devin Booker (ankle), Bradley Beal (back), and Damion Lee (knee) for this game. Beal is set to be re-evaluated in the coming weeks, while Booker is not expected to be out for too long.
Denver Nuggets Vs. Phoenix Suns Key Matchups
The key matchup for this game between two Western Conference championship-contending squads belongs to Aaron Gordon and Kevin Durant.
Aaron Gordon vs. Kevin Durant
Assuming that Aaron Gordon can give it a go in this game, he will most likely be assigned to defend Kevin Durant. Durant continues to get better and more efficient, despite being 35 years old; he is averaging 31.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game on an outrageous 52/49/90 shooting split.
Meanwhile, Aaron Gordon has missed the Nuggets’ past three games due to a heel injury but is questionable for this one. If Gordon can play, he has the best chance of slowing down Durant due to his size (6-foot-8), physicality, and overall athleticism.
The most recent matchups between Gordon and Durant occurred in last year’s playoffs when the Nuggets advanced in six games over the Suns in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. In that series, Durant posted 29.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and five assists per game on a 45/22/88 shooting split.
Wait, is that a typo? No. Durant actually shot just 22% (6-for-27) from behind the arc. KD also shot 11% worse from the field (45%) than his average that season (56%.) While some of that regression can be attributed to a playoff environment in which the defensive intensity picks up, it still makes you wonder if Gordon can at least contain Durant to a reasonable output.
Ultimately, Gordon gets a slight lean here because the Nuggets will attempt to swarm Durant and make anyone else on that team beat them. Slight Advantage: Aaron Gordon.